Maryland’s K-12 education system is the best in the nation. Yet, we rank close to the bottom nationally in closing the State’s “achievement gap” – a key priority of my work in Senator Roger Manno’s office and our work on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Our work provided historic levels of K-12 education funding -- but money alone will not elevate the tens of thousands of Maryland students who, for all kinds of reasons, fall behind. Our best option for making progress is to engage our stakeholders – teachers, parents, community leaders, and students – to reimagine educational opportunities and solutions, and to provide the necessary support for all of our students.
There can be no mobility, no progress, without a highly skilled workforce, and a vibrant economy that can sustain full employment for all Marylanders. Hard work, an honest days work for a living wage – these are the basic principles for which we must strive. That’s why I am so proud to have been endorsed for the House of Delegates by the Washington DC Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO), representing 25,000 construction trade workers throughout the region. We can create good paying, secure jobs by growing and diversifying our economy, and reinvesting in skills training – like apprenticeship programs, and hands-on internships – to prepare our workforce for the challenges that they face in the new global economy.
This year I had the honor to work on the new transportation funding bill in the State Senate. The #1 priority of County Executive Leggett and the County Council, this new legislation will enable us to get Montgomery moving again, by building the Purple Line between New Carrolton and Bethesda, and to make road improvement on Norbeck Road and across our County. Going forward, we need a greater emphasis on advancing smart transportation solutions to reduce the number of cars, by building transit-oriented developments, fewer new roadways, and incentivizing the use of green transportation and carpooling.
Maryland’s Bay, rivers and streams are in trouble. Record amounts of phosphorous, nitrogen and pesticides are wreaking havoc on our drinking water, food and wildlife. We need smarter solutions, like increasing penalties for polluters, better growth and development strategies and increasing our organic agriculture crop. And we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in our State by increasing clean energy solutions – solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric – through long-term planning and increasing our renewable energy portfolio. Recent legislation reflects the wishes of an overwhelming
number of Marylanders to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in our State. I personally visited Western Maryland along with Delegates Fraser-Hidalgo and Platt - to stand alongside advocates and constituents against fracking at a rally in Frostburg.
Social and Economic Justice
It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats. That means that we are all connected – that we rise or fall together – and we all lose if we leave anyone behind. Government can’t do everything to lift and protect families, but it can and must work to level the playing field for all Marylanders. We must protect our most vulnerable neighbors from scams and exploitation against seniors, the working poor, struggling small businesses and those with special needs. And we must ensure that all Marylanders are paid a living wage, regardless of gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.
Rights of Women, LGBT and Minorities
There are some rights that are so fragile and fundamental that no progressive and inclusive community can thrive without them. For women, the fundamental right to Reproductive Choice is central. For New Americans, whether documented or undocumented, the rights to live free from discrimination and oppressive governmental policies is critical. For people of racial, ethnic or religious minorities, ensuring equal treatment by and to governmental programs, services, workplace rights and equal standing under the law is imperative. And for our brothers and sisters who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender, the right to marry and to live with full panoply of rights afforded to straight people must be without question. But in so many instances, the strength and resolve necessary to protect these rights seems elusive. That can not be allowed to stand. Our path is clear: to build the Maryland that we can be -- the Maryland that we must be -- the Maryland that ensures the protections of fundamental rights of us all -- our elected officials must be held to the highest level of scrutiny and account.